Taking note of the increasing number of civil and criminal cases in Gurgaon,more judges were posted here and the number of courtrooms increased this year.
However,these measures have failed to expedite cases as one crucial aspect is yet to be taken care of a proportionate increase in the number of supporting staff.
This is resulting in delays in court documentation work. The work overload on the existing staff is prompting many to quit,court officials said.
Dr G S Chauhan,a practising lawyer and professor at a law college in Gurgaon,said,Some members in the staff have complained of work overload. In Delhi,every judge has at least two stenographers and there is optimum ratio of supporting staff to judges and magistrates. The same cannot be said about Gurgaon where the lack of stenographers,clerks has led to delay in recording evidence,documenting proceedings,paging and numbering documents and maintenance of important documents. This affects efficiency.
According to court official,the number of pending cases before the court stands at 80,000 in 2013
a jump of nearly 15,000 cases from 2012.
To deal with this huge pendency of cases,the number of courts was increased from 26 to 35. Since all the new courts could not be accommodated in the congested Gurgaon complex,five were established at the mini secretariat,two at Vikas Sadan and two in the current complex.
The strength of judges too has been increased. Nine judges were transferred to the Gurgaon court in June and July this year.
On an average,each court has approximately 40 hearings a day on some says,it even goes up to 60. A supporting staff of 260 handle the documentation and related work. Most of the judges have been provided with one stenographer each and even then there is a shortage of nearly 35-40 stenographers and 60 clerks,the official said.
The strength of judges at Gurgaon court has been increased. But the number of supporting staff has remained the same. This has considerably increased the workload on the staff, the official said.
According to a one of the court clerks,eight more supporting staff – clerks and stenographers – were appointed but six of them left citing workload.
According to the Punjab and Haryana High Court rules,one staff member will have to work on 500 files. But in the Gurgaon court,except for the court of District and Sessions judge (Court no. 1),all other courts have just two clerks,a reader and one stenographer to manage nearly 3,000 case files,the staff member said.
During my hearing,I saw the judge writing down the order himself as there was no stenographer available in the courtroom, a litigant said.
Sources said the Punjab and Haryana High Court |had shortlisted 2,600 applications for staff recruitment,but there has been no word yet on the appointments in Gurgaon.
Sometimes,a staff member is given an additional charge and the workload leads to delay. Why not hire more supporting staff? In courts from No. 1 to No.10,it is a well-known fact that judges write down orders/judgments on their own due to lack of supporting staff. It is either this or wait till a stenographer is free. The lack of even the basic facilities in the court raise concerns about the courts ability to handle cases efficiently, a Gurgaon advocate said.
Sources said the proposal to build a new court complex in Gurgaon,at a cost of Rs 110 crore,had been forwarded a year ago to the Punjab and Haryana High Court and then to the Haryana government. But the project is yet to take off with the government citing lack of funds.
District and Sessions Judge Shekhar Dhawan said,We have forwarded the proposal for a new complex to the high court. The proposal is currently pending with the government. As for the staff shortage,there is an issue and we are working on recruiting more staff members.